the red penguin

Bas II festival – Bowers Club, Pitsea

Bas II was an electronic music festival held in Basildon over a Friday and Saturday which attracted a small (few hundred) but very loyal cross-section of music fans from all over Europe. Not just a gig, the event also hosted a memorabilia exhibition – which I attended and was pretty interesting, a bit like a jumble sale with things that were generally unique and very valuable and not for sale – and also a bus tour of the landmarks of Basildon, which isn’t as odd as it sounds, because the town and surroundings was responsible for a lot of the boom of electronic music in the early 80s.

The gigs were on the Friday and Saturday evenings at the Bowers and Pitsea football club clubhouse at the back of one of the housing estates in Pitsea – pretty easy to find, you just home in on the floodlights. The bar was of a decent size and could easily hold 300-400 people.

The memorabilia exhibition was held at James Hornsby school in Basildon (only a couple of minutes’ drive from my home, just outside the town) where a plaque proudly stands proclaiming the school stage to be the home of Depeche Mode’s first ever live performance in 1980, which I found interesting although the exact date would have been nice – maybe they didn’t know! Two bands, Protege Reign and Sinestar, put on a matinee performance here as well; I love the non-late-night gigs, there should be more of them.

The plaque next to the stage at James Hornbsy school. “Seventy Million Albums” inexplicably gain capital letters

The memorabilia exhibition

Protege Reign playing live at the exhibition

While I was a fan of artists like Depeche Mode, Gary Numan and that kind of thing in the early 80s – I particularly liked John Foxx, who is still going strong – I never followed it enough to consider myself fanatical. Didn’t stop me enjoying the music though and seeing seven bands I’d never seen before (although three of them had been in for sessions my local radio station and one more is coming in next month).

Naked Lunch



Protege Reign

Shiny Darkness


Electro Kill Machine

I was having to split my time between work and family duties which meant I was able to visit the memorabilia exhibition and spend a couple of hours each night watching the music, but wasn’t able to hang around for the headliners, which included Blancmange, Speak and Spell (a pretty good DM tribute act) and also people like Sarah Blackwell from Client/Dubstar who was DJing on the Friday night. However it did mean I got a chance to see some older bands like Naked Lunch (playing their first gig in 30 years), Marlow and Shiny Darkness, who were all around in the early 80s, plus newer bands doing a similar thing like Modovar, Electro Kill Machine, Spacebuoy and Protege Reign. Who wants to see Depeche Mode in a stadium with 30,000 other people anyway?

Hard to say what my highlight of the evening was, it was all at a consistently good level. If I had to pick one I think I’d go for Spacebuoy, because I was less familiar with their music (always love seeing a band whose stuff I don’t know, and then enjoying it) and the image was very Tomorrow’s World 1972, which made them properly futuristic, because they were playing the music of 10 years time!

The sound system was phenomenal, one of the best I can remember at a gig for a long time. Because the music part of the event was split over two distinct sites over two days, I’m not sure whether to include this in my big list of gigs as one event, or two, or even three. I think in the end I am going to plump for one, because it was all part of the same thing, even though it was in two different parts of town.

Most of the people were between my age and my age plus 10 which made me feel pretty good. No drunken shouting that goes with youth, yet I was still feeling pretty young myself, perfect!

I completely missed out on Bas I which took place in 2011, but if there is a Bas III next year I hope to give it a bit more of my time.

Lots of videos:

Friday 4 May 2012, 117 views

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